“(Experience) is invaluable,” Sequoyah coach Todd Morrissey said. “You can’t put a price on it. Players with experience are the ones that drive and encourage their team, the ones that push the team in a positive direction.”
When asked which of his 10 returning seniors had stepped into a leadership role, Morrissey found it impossible to pick just one.
“Honestly, I don’t think I could single out one person,” Morrissey said. “At some point, all of my seniors have stepped up and taken on the role of leader.”
Seniors such as outfielder Hannah Kidd, first baseman Sophia Andretta and second baseman Courtney Gibbs will be expected to play an important part in the Chiefs’ upcoming season.
Cherokee will see six returning starters this year, led by centerfielder Anna Rowe, pitcher Savannah Dover and utility player Kelli McCormack.
Woodstock will see the return of nine starters this coming season, seven are seniors.
“Having players with varsity level experience returning is encouraging,” Woodstock’s softball coach Kortney Dempsey said. “I believe it gives the girls a competitive edge and drive because they have seen what is expected of them. They will put high expectations on themselves.”
For Victoria Brown, who is entering her first year as Etowah’s coach, a core of experienced players will provide a solid foundation for her to build upon in her debut season.
“It is extremely helpful have such a seasoned group of girls coming back for this season. I think that the experience of these players has lessened the learning curve that I faced in taking over the program this year,” said Brown. “It made everyone feel a little more comfortable with the change.”
Brown will have the rare benefit of having the entire Eagles varsity team from last season return.
“We did not lose a single player from last year,” Brown said. “The (returning players) will be a huge asset to the team this year. I could not ask for a better group of leaders.”
However, not all of the county high schools will have the advantage of veteran leadership or an experienced varsity squad.
River Ridge will have only one senior on the team this season.
Despite winning their region with a 21-12 record, coach Scott Bradley said he saw last year’s team struggle due to a lack of experience in their first ever trip to the playoffs.
“Last year, we had a freshmen pitch against North Oconee in the first round and Blessed Trinity in the second round of state,” he said. “I remember going out to talk to her for a mound visit and she was scared to death. I am sure several of our girls were. They just hid it a lot better than she did.
“I think that this year we will be much more prepared and know what to expect when those big games come up,” Bradley said.
Creekview stands as the only high school in the county to have lost more starters (6) than it returned (3).
The county softball season will open on Aug. 13 as Cherokee and Creekview head to Kennesaw State University to play East Coweta.